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Old 04-15-2014, 07:48 PM   #1
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Class A buyer Dilemma NEW Gas or USED Diesel

My wife and I are looking for a sub 35' class A motorhome in the under 80k budget zone.
We've been looking at the new usual gassers.
The ACE 30.1, FR3, Itasca Sunstar 30-34'
Frankly none of them "wow" me.

But also are seeing quite a few nice Diesel pushers coming up in our price range from years 02'-07' or so. With anywhere from 15k-60k miles. (often less than our 80k budget)
Newmar, Winnebago, there's an 02' Monaco Knight (with the Neway suspention) we like.

We'll be probably doing one 3-day trip a month 300-500mi, and one or two big ones a year for a week or two. My best guess is 8-10k mi a year. Just our newborn son, and occasionally with another couple (so front sleeping sofa/area is a must).

We live in so-cal and want the 35' or less to fit in Yosemite and a few other spots where size is restrictive. Perhaps squeak a 36-37 but no more.

We don't mind buying a used diesel (with a proper inspection first) even with 60k + miles. We figure dated fabrics and TV's can easily be replaced and updated.

I'm sure this is asked a thousand times, but what would YOU do?
Any gotchas with the gas or Diesel?
Obviously no warrantee with a used coach.

There are quite a few nice pushers in the 60k range, and 20k buys a lot of maintenance/repair work (if needed).
We will be pulling a Grand Cherokee Toad as well.

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Old 04-15-2014, 07:59 PM   #2
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Have to think about whether you go more or stay more. Prime advantage to a DP is if going more, in the areas of comfort and handling. If staying more then those factors are not so much impactful. Cost of operation, maintenance, etc. Are typically less with gasser.

We now have a large gasser selected specifically due to our usage model. We go out for long weekends once a month to nearby places - 1-2 hours drive. Plus a coupler three times for a weeklong trip 1-2 days travel away. In a few years will be retirement, with more traveling and a DP at that time.

Vince and Susan
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Previously a 2002 Fleetwood Pace Arrow 37A and a 1995 Safari Trek 2830.
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Old 04-15-2014, 08:08 PM   #3
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We are in a Gasser currently, and have been for the last 2 years. We like our floor plan and I like gas because I know gas.
I am now finding that I am leaning toward a DP and here are my reasons.

More power, More towable weight, And I find we average about 6K miles a year. Not bad for still having a Kid in school and working a Full time Job.

I feel just having a Rig is a Privilege for my family, now that we are wiser, we need to get into one that fits better..

Good Luck

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Old 04-15-2014, 08:14 PM   #4
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A used DP will be a more pleasant vehicle to drive and better built than newer models you mentioned. 60,000 miles on a DP is hardly even broke in. Some buyers consider more miles would be even better.
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Old 04-15-2014, 08:21 PM   #5
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Not many diesel pushers are 35' or less. Were it me in your circumstances, I would buy a gas-powered MH. The preferred length is readily available, initial cost is much less for the same year coach, overall maintenance is cheaper on a newer unit, and the MH will be lighter weight vs same length on a DP chassis.
That said, we opted for the MH in my signature. It fits our lifestyle and traveling plans better than a gas coach would; even though I have friends who are full-time, and have been for 10 years, in a gas-powered MH.
If you decide on an older diesel pusher, I strongly suggest you consider buying an extended service contract. We did, at time of purchase 1 year ago this month. To date, the extended service contract has paid-out just over $5,000 for covered expenses on our coach. Two more years on contract, which cost $4,800.
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Old 04-15-2014, 08:27 PM   #6
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A sizable chunk of what you pay for a new unit will go towards depreciation. I would rather put that money towards a DP drivetrain which will provide a lot more vehicle for the money. You can always budget some of the purchase price towards a service contract which would mitigate some of the risk of buying used, but frankly an inspected and good condition used unit will not necessarily be any less reliable than new, in fact perhaps more so.

I've considered this often myself and have come to the conclusion that it will be less expensive to purchase what I really want (a DP) than to have to upgrade later. Learned that lesson a long time ago (and keep re-learning it )
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Old 04-15-2014, 08:47 PM   #7
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Thanks for the replies. Yeah we're go-ers and don't stay in one place too long. Maybe a day or two then move on.

What's a realistic budget for maintenance on a DP? Say 10k miles a year? I'm guesstimating 2k-2.5k a year not including anything major like a tranny
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Old 04-15-2014, 09:00 PM   #8
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Oh also, many of the DP's are sold through a private party (probably not wanting to get murdered on trade-in)... so no extended service contract. I'm a big believer in the PPI
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Old 04-15-2014, 09:11 PM   #9
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If you can afford diesel, go diesel.

Even if you have a bit of work to bring it to where you know all critical systems related diesel operation e.g. filters, air system, transmission. If you can locate a single owner diesel rig with full maint docs, your battle is half won.

Look at tire DOT age codes to see if you're going to need new.

Remember, everything on a diesel is bigger and usually better than gas. Tires are almost always 22.5 i.e better ride. Air bag, air brake systems give a great advantage. Diesel engines are in the back on most...quiet driving experience compared to a howling front engine gas rig. Chassis are also much better and stronger.

Your price point is well positioned for either platform. Do yourself a favor, hit a RV dealer or private owner and test drive a budget DP and the new gasser you're looking at and pay close attention to all the points being made in this thread.

Try to buy your last RV first...
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Old 04-15-2014, 09:36 PM   #10
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I'd buy a higher end 2-5 year old gasser and have twice the motorhome for the same money. save yourself a bundle in maintainence and repair headaches. the diesel just getting broke in at 60k makes me giggle. how many motorhomes ever even reach the 100k mark. very few, and when they do the diesels are worth barely any more, than a gasser compared to the 2 to 3+ times the cost when new.
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:07 PM   #11
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As the owner of two gas units and now we are on our second diesel it's no brainer, it was embarrassing driving our gas unit towing our towd going up a hill at 20 mph with 40 foot DP passing us like we are standing still towing an Escalade. Upgraded to the DP and although we still slow down on hills it's only 5 to 10 mph instead of 40 to 50 mph for the gasser. As far as reliability goes the diesel can't be beat, maintenance is more expensive yes but you won't have to worry about replacing an engine or tranny like in a gasser. Gas drive trains are under powered for this type of unit, in a motor home the gas engines have to work their heart out and if you don't maintain them they are lucky to make 100,000 miles. You will have some major expenses somewhere down the road in a gas unit. The fuel economy is better with diesel, 9 to 13 mpg in allot of cases where you will be lucky to get 6 or 7 mpg with gas. The big thing is the power if you are pulling a towd any distance you will want the diesel power. If you maintain a diesel properly it will last forever and give you allot more miles of trouble free motoring. Gassers just don't last and in the long run cost more in "Repairs" So in my book the diesel wins every time. There is a reason they don't put gas engines in semi's, they just won't cut it and the diesels the use can go over a million miles when properly maintained.
Hope I made my point, just my opinion working in the mechanic's trade..........
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:14 PM   #12
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Most DPs shorter than 36' are twitchy handlers due to the drive wheels being in front of the motor and therefore limited chassis length. Even at 36' there are only a few with long chassis. Of course you should test drive what you buy to make sure it handles well.

I volunteer for the CA State Parks. Even with 35' coach many if not most of the CA State Parks will have length rules too short for you. 30' works for a lot more CA S parks. The State Park I work at has not changed much in the last 50 years. Many of the buildings and trails are from the CCC days. On the other hand tonight my wife and I are camped at an Arizona State Park at a very modern facility and huge sites with water and 50 amps electric. Our rate at this facility is less than the park I work at in CA for dry camping.

As far as gas or diesel. Test drive a bunch of them and then buy the one you like.

I did drive a couple of FRED diesel motorhomes back 5 or so years. They were in the 32' - 34' range. Seems like Tiffin made one of those with a nice long chassis for good handling. Of course with the diesel motor in front you hear it more.

Country Coach made several models in 36' that are very good motorhomes. Those are DPs.
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Old 04-16-2014, 07:30 AM   #13
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Find the floor plan you like and buy it. DP or Gasser. It sounds like you really don't put that many miles on your rig so I would think that floor plan is more important.
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Old 04-16-2014, 10:22 AM   #14
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My advice to the OP would be to but what you really want... you know what it is...

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